A lot of gamers felt betrayed when Sega announced their plans to discontinue video game hardware development and focus solely on supporting and developing software for other video game consoles.
Sega's departure from hardware development was inevitable. Its inability to dominate in the mainstream market resulted from the failure of systems throughout the 1990s like overly ambitious "add-ons," the 32x and Sega CD, and the hard-to-program-for Sega Saturn. These issues brought about a general sense of mistrust from the mainstream gamer, a mentality that carried over to the Dreamcast despite all of the improvements Sega made to make it a more appealing entertainment system.
The most unfortunate blow to the Dreamast was perhaps the domino effect that resulted from Sega's announcement that they would discontinue producing software for the Dreamcast hardware in 2002. Third-party developers were jumping ship from the Dreamcast as if it were the Black Plague. Highly anticipated titles like Soul Reaver 2 and the updated PC-port of Half-Life were unexpectedly cancelled. The Dreamcast, with its huge library of fun and innovative games will be dead a few months after its second birthday. The true potential of the system will forever remain unseen.
Sega has been critically praised for the quality and originality of its products, but has been criticized for its hardware throughout the 1990s. Ever since the Master System, Sega has been the underdog when it comes to hardware. The company never got the respect and recognition that it rightly deserved.
Instead of hoping to win public acceptance with a new, more powerful video game console, Sega will be focusing on what really makes the company great - the games. With Sega's new third-party plan, the company aims to restructure itself, hoping to become the principal force in the gaming industry.
In building the "new" Sega, the Sega Corporation will be focusing on growing one region at a time, with the goal to be the top third-party video game developer by March 2004. Sega will begin its focus with Japan, followed by the United States in fiscal year 2003. In fiscal year 2004, Sega's focus will end with Europe. Sega will focus on building up development resources and content, expanding the reach and distribution of its products, and will take advantage of key opportunities that each market presents, while working closely with the management teams from each of the three regions.
The primary focus for Sega is to broaden accessibility of their fantastic products to a wider range of consumers and gamers, something that will significantly expand its revenue potential. For the last six months, Sega has been focusing on increasing its development across all gaming platforms including the Nintendo GameBoy Advance and GameCube, the Sony PlayStation 2, and the Microsoft Xbox, so that a greater quantity of Sega titles are available to consumers.
NINTENDO GAMEBOY ADVANCE
Sega's plans for becoming a third-party developer are ambitious. The games listed above for each respective system are simply the beginning. Sega will be strengthening and reinforcing popular franchises like
Sega already signed on with the GameBoy Advance during the 32-bit handheld's launch this summer with the port of the Dreamcast puzzle game Chu Chu Rocket, and plans to release a whole slew of games in the coming months.
Much like the enhanced version of Super Mario Bros. 2 on the GameBoy Advance (which was renamed to Mario Advance for the GBA), Sega intends to revive the classic Genesis game that started the whole Sonic franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. Based on the screenshots that are floating around on various gaming web sites, the tentatively-titled Sonic Advance for the GBA looks identical to the Genesis version. Extra features or multiplayer options have not been announced.
Sega recently entered into an agreement with THQ to co-publish 16 Sega titles including Sonic Advance and The House of the Dead Pinball (a working title), for the GBA in the next 18 months. Because Sega plans to revive vintage classic titles from the Genesis and Saturn, it's possible that GBA owners may be enjoying classic 16-bit Sega games on their 32-bit handhelds.
Additionally, Sega and THQ will collaborate on launch timing, so that Sega's next-generation console titles can launch concurrently with the GBA versions.
Much like it's participation in the GameBoy Advance launch, Sega with be with Nintendo again for the November launch of the new next-generation console, the Nintendo GameCube. Super Monkey Ball is an original puzzle game featuring the same enjoyable gameplay that Sega is famous for. From the game's description, Super Monkey Ball sounds similar to the GameBoy Color game Kirby's Tilt N Tumble. The object of the game is to navigate your "monkey ball" to its objectives by tilting the playfield without rolling your little monkey off the edge.
Fans of the Sonic series will see a port of the popular and extremely fun Dreamcast title Sonic Adventure 2 for the GameCube. Although there is no word if any significant improvements to the game will be made, Sonic Adventure 2 will feature interaction between the GameBoy Advance and the GameCube hardware when raising your pet Chao in the Chao World mini game.
One of the Dreamcast's greatest online multiplayer games, Phantasy Star Online will be appearing on the GCN, as well, featuring an impressive 4-player split-screen mode, that has not been implemented into either versions on the Dreamcast. No information has surfaced yet about the online multiplayer for GCN's PSO, or whether or not it will include the new multiplayer gameplay modes found in the Dreamcast's updated "re-release," Phantasy Star Online Version 2.
Finally, expect to see the Sega Sports series on the GameCube, as developer Visual Concepts has stated that it will support all video game platforms.
SONY PLAYSTATION 2
Sega's most controversial support is undoubtedly for the Sony PlayStation 2. Two Sega titles have already appeared on for the PS2: Crazy Taxi and 18-Wheeler American Pro Trucker (Nov. 13).
The most anticipated title for the PS2 is obviously Virtua Fighter 4 which is toting some very impressive graphics, new and interesting gameplay twists, and more detailed battle arenas.
In a chance to finally compete on the same battleground with Electronic Arts' sports games, a collection of Sega Sports games will be released on the PS2. Information and screenshots of Sega Sports NFL 2k2 have already surfaced on the Internet, which show significantly improved graphics over its Dreamcast counterpart. With graphical enchancements like realistic player faces and facial expressions, including fully 3D modeled mouths and tongues, will make it possible for players to have "virtual emotions." Developer Visual Concepts also promises some improved gameplay and player animations, and hope to make you forget about that other popular Sony franchise by Electronic Arts.
Finally, look for ports of the popular dance game Space Channel 5 and undead romp fest Zombie Revenge to be released by year's end.
Even though Microsoft is the new guy to the video game industry, Sega has no problem supporting their system. As a matter of fact, the Xbox seems to be the only system that will get more original Sega games and fewer "classic" ports.
The most anticipated title for the Xbox is probably Jet Set Radio Future the sequel to Jet Grind Radio for the Dreamcast. JSFR will feature the same cel-shaded graphics, but will include much bigger and more detailed level design.
Because of its recent controversial cancellation on the Dreamcast, Shenmue II will also be another hotly anticipated Sega title for the Xbox. Although there is no word on the improvements that will be made with Shenmue II on the Xbox, Sega has stated that they plan to take full advantage of the Xbox's hardware. Translated, that probably means bigger, more detailed levels and characters. Expect to be wowed with this one, as Sega owes hardcore Dreamcast fans something BIG after dropping this title so unexpectedly from the Dreamcast.
Screenshots and video clips have been floating around on the Internet for the Xbox exclusive Gun Valkyrie, a bug-busting action game that was originally supposed to debut on the Dreamcast. Sega also announced that a new Panzer Dragoon title is in the works.
Fans of the Dreamcast's "Gran Turismo-killer", Sega GT, will be pleased to know that Sega GT 2002 will also premier on Microsoft's console.
Because the Xbox features out-of-box online support, Sega plans to take advantage of this function with the Xbox title of Phantasy Star Online. It is not known if Xbox's PSO will be an an original title, a sequel, or an enhanced port of from Dreamcast.
Like with Nintendo and Sony, Visual Concepts will also support the Xbox with its Sega Sports line with titles like Sega Sports NFL 2k2.
However, unlike other consoles, Sega's involvement with the Xbox will not be immediate. Gamers will have to wait until 2002 to witness the marriage of Sega and Microsoft's Xbox.
Even though the PC isn't a huge focus for Sega, it is important to state that Phantasy Star Online will be making an appearance on home computers everywhere. Again, there are no details about this release.
"Building upon the strength of our key development teams, our world-renowned content and our years of experience in this business, we are poised to take Sega to new levels on a global basis," said Tetsu Kayama, Chief Operations Officer of Sega Corporation. "We know what it takes to be successful and we are continuing to meet milestones to ensure our global success and dominance in the gaming arena - no matter what the platform."
Good luck, Sega.